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HS2 will devastate family business, farmer tells MPs

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: May 14, 2014

Richard Williams

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A STAFFORD farmer has travelled to Westminster to tell MPs how high speed rail would devastate his business.

Richard Williams joined fellow Staffordshire farmers, including Lichfield's David Cliffe and John and Rosemary Barnes, for a meeting with London's NFU team and politicians ahead of the second reading of the HS2 London to Birmingham Hybrid Bill.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy had signed an amendment put forward by Lichfield's Michael Fabricant calling for the bill not to be given a second reading, and Stone MP Bill Cash also voted against the bill. But 452 MPs voted in favour, with just 41 against.

If passed the Bill will pave the way for the first phase of the controversial HS2 project. The second phase would pass through Staffordshire, and the proposed route slices Mr Williams' farm off Weston Road in half.

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Mr Williams, a former Mid Staffordshire NFU branch chairman, grows cereals and runs a successful bed and breakfast and equine business with wife Julie. His family took on the farm in 1942 with the hope of handing it over to his children.

But he said that if earth was removed during construction to make a railway cutting the soil and rock would be dumped on other fields before being re-gathered, and the land would not be good for quite some years afterwards

"When you are being bulldozed out of your home compulsory purchase becomes a very dirty word," he said.

"The construction alone will be horrific and none of us will really be able to grasp the impact until they come and we see the devastation to the fields and the rest of our businesses and homes.

"The damage to our business will be devastating as it will go right through our land, our barn conversions and just shy of the house, we will be right on the fence line.

"Despite the vote the lobbying event was really useful to highlight the many issues we face and to talk compensation and tax relief."

Sarah Faulkner, NFU West Midlands environment and rural affairs adviser said it was important to continue to highlight members' concerns to decision makers and that the NFU would continue to do everything possible to ensure HS2 has minimum disruption to farming.

"We have had numerous meetings with HS2 and discussions are on-going to talk mitigation and compensation which the Government must offer as part of the line's construction.

"We are also working to ensure the Government sticks to its pledge to do all it can to offer assistance and support to those affected by the route."

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